Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for the Best Biography of 2018
Photographer Arthur Fellig had a second sense as to where emergency services would be and arrived in such a timely fashion that he nicknamed himself “Weegee.” The Austrian immigrant had an unflinching eye for the gritty side of life. Weegee’s flare for the experimental paved the way for photographers of the future and his outlandish personality makes for a life lived on ones own terms. Bonanos shows us the manic man behind the lens.
Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous is the story of a man born in what is now Ukraine who immigrated with his family to New York and rose from the bottom of the barrel to the top of the heap. Bonanos shows us a much mythologized man (often by himself – a master self-promoter), warts and all. Often, when writing the story of this sort of character, the narrative can come off at extremes – demeaning or deifying the character. In the case of Arthur Felig, there’s a clear picture of a man who always felt at odds with his world and sought to rise above those who might look down their noses at him. The author conveys an empathy to the reader for a life not easily lived. Continue reading Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous by Christopher Bonanos
The drunk driver that killed Tess’ daughter got two years in prison but why should his daughter, Eve, live when hers had died. Tess obsessively stalks Eve and when the young girl goes missing, Tess is the obvious suspect but what if it wasn’t her?
I received this book for review from the Book Club Reviewer Facebook group.
If She Dies is a study in grief. Because Tess is telling us this story, we never really know how honest she’s being with us. What the reader learns early on is that Tess avoids reality with the exception of the loss of Lily which she sees as her loss alone. Tess is wrapped in sorrow and an unfocused need for vengeance that leaps from the page. What the first person method does is create a connection to the character for a reader. Tess can be a lot but we understand, she’s lost what she saw as her purpose. She feels that her husband doesn’t feel the loss as deeply as she does but then she doesn’t ask because, frankly, she’s too lost in herself to care. A twist changes the Continue reading If She Dies by Erik Therme
In 1937 Alice McDonell Parsons was allegedly picked up at her home by two people interested in seeing a property she had for rent and was never seen again. A note found on the floorboard of a car led police to think it was a kidnapping, which wasn’t so far fetched as kidnaping was a very popular crime at the time. The FBI became involved and Hoover assigned his best agents to the case. The complications that followed and secrets that were exposed complicated the case of the missing woman whose fate was never really known. Drielak takes a deep dive into declassified documents to fit the puzzle pieces of what happened to Alice McDonell Parsons.
Long Island’s Vanished Heiress: The Unsolved Alice Parsons Kidnapping is a fascinating read. The author spent 30 years in law enforcement and examines the historical evidence relaying it in a very readable way. There’s no whitewashing of the historical investigation. It was held up by clashes between law enforcement agencies and, in some cases, pedantic investigators. Readers start with the events of June 9, 1937 as relayed by Alice’s housekeeper/business partner, Anna Kupryanova, Continue reading Long Island’s Vanished Heiress: The Unsolved Alice Parsons Kidnapping by Steven C. Drielak
Morag McGregor is sent to Scottish Court by her father in hopes that she will make a match or, at least, dampen her desire to get revenge on her neighbour, the Campbells. In a setting tense with religious and political strife will Morag sate her desire for revenge and return to her secret love who is waiting at home?
I received this book for review from the Book Club Reviewer Facebook group.
Highland Lioness is the fourth book in the Highland Ballad Series
I have not read any of the previous three books in the Highland Ballad Series and believe that this is the first book I’ve read by Kristin Gleeson and to be quite honest, I did not have high hopes for Highland Lioness in meeting Morag and she and her co-conspirators were lying in wait to sabotage the Campbell’s cattle. First impression was that she was going to be one of these borderline compulsive characters that would careen brainlessly from scrape to scrape until someone “tamed” her completely discounting the historical context of how dangerous a spirited woman might be Continue reading Highland Lioness: A Highland Romance of Tudor Scotland (The Highland Ballad Series Book 4) by Kristin Gleeson
A Texas Choir Mistress (Jacki Weaver) inherits a San Francisco drag club from her late son, Rickey, (Eldon Thiele) with whom she hadn’t been in touch since he came out.
I’m going to be 100% honest with this review and tell you that I equal parts loved and hated Stage Mother. A mother loses her only child with whom she was very close in his early years to a drug addiction. The audience sees him indulge in his drug of choice, go out on stage and pretty much drop dead. His mother, Maybelline, who is the epitome of fabulous is notified of her son’s death and is determined to attend the funeral, disregarding the objections of her husband (Hugh Thompson). Once in San Francisco she seeks to build bridges with the family she feels she has left which are her son’s partner and the people he valued in his life. Continue reading Stage Mother (2020)
On November 6, 1920, in the midst of Ontario’s prohibition, Provincial liquor inspector, Reverend J.O.L “Leslie” Spracklin walked into the Chappell House Hotel in Windsor, Ontario and shot Beverly “Babe” Trumble at close range, killing him. What happened that day and how did Spracklin get away with murder?
Given the part that Ontario played in the US prohibition, which started in 1920, one would not assume that Ontario was dry at that time. The Ontario Temperance Act was passed in 1916 and while liquor could be produced and exported, it was not legal to consume. Brode begins Dying for a Drink: How a Prohibition Preacher Got Away with Murder outlining Ontario’s history with alcohol and its citizens lack of reverence for the newly established rules after prohibition passed. Windsor, which is across a river just south of Detroit, Michigan, was a special concern for the officials in Toronto as liquor seemed to flow freely back and forth across the water. There were speakeasys everywhere and hotels and social clubs would serve both locally produced and homemade products. There are stately homes now in the lovely Walkervile area of Windsor, built by people that got rich off of the illegal flow of alcohol. Continue reading Dying for a Drink: How a Prohibition Preacher Got Away with Murder by Patrick Brode
On November 29, 1990, two construction workers found the body of 17 year old Saulteaux First Nations tribe member, Neil Stonechild. His friend, Jason Roy, last saw him in the back of a police car on November 25, 1990. The initial inquiry into his death by the Saksatoon police ruled it to be accidental and not as a result of foul play. When a surviving victim of a Starlight Tour came forward, it led to the reopening of the case in 2000 and would shine a horrible and cruel light on the practices of certain Saskatoon Police Officers and the full coverage they received of the “Blue Curtain,” a practice in which a police officer doesn’t inform on his fellow officer.
In the wake of police brutality in the United States, I see a lot of people from other countries saying “We feel for you but we can’t relate.” In Canada, we sit atop the United States and look down our noses at our seemingly less evolved neighbors. What we completely ignore when doing that is the treatment of First Nations people in Canada which, frankly, is what allowed the Saskatoon Police to go unchecked as long as they did and, maybe still do. Our First Nations people don’t have potable drinking water and scores of women go missing without the authorities taking their disappearance seriously (Go to this website for information about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls). Continue reading Human Rights Day 2020: Starlight Tour; the Last, Lonely Night of Neil Stonechild by Robert Renaud and Susanne Reber
Abigaia Grena has only known a life of crime. A talented thief, she has come to hate what she’s become. She dreams of returning to her ancestral home but her intended isn’t interested in making the trip across the ocean. What will she do when the Euebeltic Realm needs her?
The author, Nadine Keels, gave me a copy of Eubeltic Descent in exchange for my review.
We learn the most important thing about Abigaia in the first few sentences; she rationalizes morality. She’s a thief but vendors anticipate thievery and make allowances so Abigaia suggests that it’s something of a social contract. At her core, she’s a deeply principled person caught in a situation she’s unable to control but she can dream and, perhaps; find the strength to make dreams reality. She’s a master of distraction and analytical thinking in her craft and uses that not only to misdirect vendors and readers. She’s led a rough life having lost her mother young and while her father was physically there for a while and impressed upon her the importance of her heritage, she’s terrified of him. Abigaia, now living with her aunt, has turned to something of a pack of thieves. Her aunt knows she can’t afford the things she brings from market but asks no questions. Keels impresses on us that these are desperately poor people living on the edge and hence, the world to which Abi’s ancestors immigrated isn’t quite the bright land of opportunity it once was and as she learns about her ancestors, her hope grows.
There’s a metaphor of modern life in Eubeltic Descent. The class system and shattered lives and the proud ancestry that one would hope is re-found. Keel’s writing style is an intelligent mix of a classic world and a carefully constructed progressive plot that shows massive growth in its main character that is in keeping with the girl we meet in the first few chapters. Abi starts as a little girl sure she’s too old for the games and matures into a strong and capable woman. Keel’s skill with the language is visceral. We see Abi’s hair fall to act as a disguise, we see Tarek’s raking smile, we stand in the kitchen with Abi’s aunt as she makes apple tarts. Its hard to go into the story without revealing massive spoilers but the lines of the plot come together smoothly taking readers on a journey to the unexpected.
As fantasy novels go, Eubelic Descent is a good one. It flows well and is a fast read. If you like character driven fantasy, be sure to pick this one up today.
Read an excerpt and buy Eubeltic Descent by Nadine Keels on
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